London’s King’s College has been the stage for a recent race row, as a black medical student claims she was the victim of racist bullying and is currently suing her medical college, which is part of the University of London, for more than £300,000. Virginia Jibowu, who is of Nigerian origin and from South London, alleges she was victimised and ostracised by white racist students on her course at King’s College medical school and that examiners then intentionally failed her and tried to prevent her from being able to re-sit her final exams.
Jibowu enrolled on King’s College six-year medical degree in September 2002. A year a longer than the normal medical degree, the extended course is for students from under-privileged backgrounds. Jibowu states that students on her course were made to wear a special badge, which singled them out from fellow students and led to bullying from those on the regular course.
The 25-year-old student has deemed the environment at the medical school to be ‘institutionally racist’. She claims her peers refused to eat, shop, or share a shower-room with her, and alleges she was the victim of several offensive and racist comments from fellow students. Jibowu accuses the college of refusing to follow up her complaints and is now suing them on grounds of race discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
Jibowu believes that King’s College were in the wrong to allow the accused students to graduate, and says that the fact all the alleged racists are now practising as doctors and nurses within the NHS will only serve to perpetuate what she sees as the problem of ‘institutional racism’ within the health service.
Jibowu also said that three other white students had shown hostility towards her during her placement in a hospital in Hastings in 2006. She alleges one said that immigrants were ruining the country, and spoke disparagingly of the nurses of Afro-Caribbean origin at King’s College. Jibowu accuses another fellow student of saying that a virus should be introduced into Africa to wipe out the population of black Africans on the continent.
She claims the racist bullying has caused her loss of earnings, as well as emotional and physical damage. The trainee doctor had succeeding in passing the first five years of her course without failure and did not expect to be unable to complete her final year.
If she fails to graduate, it is understood that Jibowu will sue the college at the High Court for further compensation for the ruin of her career, which could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The medical student had secured a post at Gwent Hospital in Wales, where she was due to begin working as a doctor in August of last year. However, she claims the college deliberately failed her during her final exams and without informing her proceeded to contact her future bosses in Wales to say she would not be taking up her position at the hospital. Jibowu believes the position should have been held open for her pending her appeal against the exam results.
King’s College and the medics accused of racism and victimization all strongly deny Jibowu’s claims. The case will be heard later this year at the Central London County Court.